Re-Determination of the Boundaries of Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill: Department briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

18 May 2005
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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 May 2005
RE-DETERMINATION OF THE BOUNDARIES OF CROSS-BOUNDARY MUNICIPALITIES BILL: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms N Ntshulana-Bengu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department PowerPoint presentation on the Re-Determination of the Boundaries of Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill [B12 - 2005]
Re-determination of the Boundaries o Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill [B12-2005]
Briefing Note on Redetermination of Boundaries Cross Boundary Municipalities Bill.

SUMMARY
The Department presented the objectives of the Re-determination of the Boundaries of Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill. The Bill was aimed at re-determining certain municipal boundaries that had been incorrectly plotted on the Municipal Demarcation Board’s (MDB) maps. In order to achieve this, the Local Government: Cross-Boundary Municipalities Act, 2000 would have to be amended, which was the secondary aim of the Bill. The Department intended to present maps of the areas that would be affected by boundary changes if the Bill were passed. This however was not possible for technical reasons.

In the ensuing discussion, Members asked when information on the re-determination of the boundaries of the Cross-Boundary Municipalities (CBMs) would be available; whether the boundaries of municipalities would be used as building blocks for provincial boundaries; why the Bill had been presented to the Committee at such a late stage in the process; and whether concurrence was forthcoming from the provincial legislatures involved. Members asked to receive the maps of the affected areas before the end of the week. The Committee decided to consider the Bill during its next meeting on 24 May.

MINUTES

Re-Determination of the Boundaries of Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill briefing
Adv. S Kholong (Department Executive Manager: Administration, System and Processes) noted that the overall objective of the Bill was to allow for the authorisation of a re-determination of certain municipal boundaries. It would also amend the Local Government: Cross-Boundary Municipalities Act, 2000. Adv. Kholong highlighted that irrespective of the decision taken around the future of CBMs, the preliminary demarcated boundaries that were used for the ward delimitation process for the upcoming local elections, needed to be authorised by the Bill.

Adv. Kholong explained that, currently, some of the maps of the MDB that defined municipal boundaries were not aligned with the Surveyor-General’s maps. This mistake had arisen due to the fact that when the MDB drew up its maps, it had lacked access to the advanced technology that the Surveyor-General had at its disposal. The result was that when the MDB maps were compared to the Surveyor-General’s maps, the boundaries of certain municipalities did not correlate. This meant that in the respective maps, in certain places, the boundaries of certain areas ran parallel to one another. This needed to be addressed. However, Section 2 of the Local Government: Cross-Boundary Municipalities Act only authorised the re-determination of boundaries if two stipulations were met. The first stipulation was that the legislatures of the effected provinces needed to concur on the proposed boundary changes. The second stipulation was that an Act of Parliament was needed to authorise boundary changes. The Bill before the Committee was designed to be the Act of Parliament that authorised the boundary re-determinations. It would also authorise the re-determinations by amending the Local Government: Cross-Boundary Municipalities Act. It would do so by replacing the existing schedule that described CBMs in the Act, with a schedule that reflected the re-determinations.

With regards to the Bill itself, Clause 1 authorised the re-determination of boundaries of CBMs. Clause 2 amended the schedule of the Local Government: Cross-Boundary Municipalities Act. This had been discussed and co-ordinated with the MDB and the effected parties, including the provinces. The Bill had been published for public comment in March. Very few public comments were received, and those that were, tended to be of a technical nature. Adv. Kholong briefly outlined some of the areas that would be affected by the technical changes. These included, amongst others, Groblersdal, Tshwane and Sekhukhune. Adv. Kholong intended to present maps of the effected areas to the Committee. Unfortunately, the computer used to deliver the presentation was unable to open the relevant files.

Discussion
Mr A Watson (DA, National Council of Provinces) enquired when more information would be available regarding the exact alterations of the boundaries of the CBMs. Adv. Kholong replied that the changes to the CBMs would be known when Cabinet had taken a decision on the matter.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked why the Committee had received the Bill at a very late stage. The demarcation process had already finished, and the finalisation of the effected ward boundaries was already in the public domain. However, a Bill was being introduced that would delay the finalisation of the effected ward boundaries until 11 legislative processes had been completed, which included the legislative processes in Parliament and the nine provinces. He questioned whether the Bill should not have been presented earlier in the boundary re-determination process.

Mr Smith noted that, at some stage, there would be an abolition of CBMs. When the CBMs were dissolved, by re-aligning their boundaries, these new municipal boundaries would also form part of the boundaries of the affected provinces. Did this mean that there would not be a need for provincial boundary re-determinations? Mr Smith also asked if, once CBMs had been removed, the building blocks of a province would be the municipalities or whether the CBMs would be eliminated by realigning their boundaries with the existing provincial boundaries.

Adv. Kholong replied that the Department was considering various options. One option was to use municipalities as the building blocks for the provincial boundaries. This option would be examined with the relevant provinces.

Mr Smith enquired whether this meant that the Department had finalised its position on the matter.

Adv. Kholong responded that Cabinet would make the decision on whether or not municipalities would be used as the building blocks for provincial boundaries.

Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) noted that the Department had stated that there had been very few public submissions on the re-determination of the affected boundaries. This did not necessarily mean that there was public acceptance of the proposed boundary re-determinations. He and Mr Diko (UDM) stated that in the past, redefining cross-boundary municipalities had been a contested political issue. Affected communities, therefore, needed to be engaged. Mr Mashudulu felt that public hearings were needed in the affected areas, as they would increase public participation in the process.

Adv. Kholong responded that the Act stipulated that there had to be public participation during the development of the Bill. This included public objections. In the light of this, there had been a process of public engagement around the Bill. However, the processes that related to the demarcation of the CBMs and the provincial boundaries were different. These issues required their own public interaction processes.

Adv. Kholong added that the MDB and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had undertaken work around the proposed new boundaries. However, the new boundaries could not be finalised until they were approved by Parliament and the provincial legislatures.

The Chairperson stated that Members needed to separate the issues surrounding public participation in the re-determination of boundaries of CBMs from the questions that related to the Bill. The Bill was designed to be a mechanism to implement whatever changes were decided. Members, at this point, needed to confine their questions to the Bill itself.

Mr Smith noted that the concurrence of all the provincial legislatures involved was required to alter the municipal boundaries. He enquired whether this concurrence would be forthcoming.

Adv Kholong noted that the Department had already received the concurrence of all the provincial legislatures.

Mr Mashudulu noted that the redrawing of maps affected the municipal placement of actual land. For this reason, Members needed to understand the process thoroughly, so that they could explain the situation to their constituencies, and thereby empower them.

Mr Mashudulu highlighted that the Department had stated that it was mainly farmland that would be affected by the re-determination of the municipal boundaries. However, in his experience, the definition of what constituted farmland could be very broad. For example, areas in Gauteng that were farmland in the recent past were now being used as areas for housing developments. It was for this reason that Members needed to understand the processes involved.

Mr Doman felt that the Bill and the process of re-defining boundaries were intertwined. He added that the Bill aimed to make technical changes, which would address the mistakes that had been made when the boundaries were plotted on the maps. It was important that no further mistakes were made regarding the effected boundaries. For this reason, Mr Doman and Mr Mashudulu requested that maps be made available to the Committee. Mr Doman added that the Committee could not afford to approve a Bill that contained possible mistakes.

Mr Doman noted that he would be prepared to endorse the Bill if the Committee received the relevant maps. He stated that the Committee was scheduled to meet on 24 May. If the Committee received the maps by the end of the week, perhaps they could approve the Bill at that meeting.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee needed to receive the maps before the meeting on 24 May. The meeting on 24 May could then be used to deliberate on the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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